Testing action resumed in Bahrain today with the first day of the third and final session of the winter. It’s the final chance for the teams to gain some knowledge before the cars hit the track in Australia in 15 days.
Overall times meant little today as no one approached the best laps recorded last week, but there was a familiar pattern as the Mercedes teams were at the top of the table, and the Renault teams at the bottom – both in terms of times and laps completed.
Three Mercedes teams managed to complete over 100 laps today, with Valtteri Bottas and Williams managing 128, McLaren 109, and Force India 105. At the other extreme it was a bad day for Caterham, with Kamui Kobayashi running only 19 laps.
Sergio Perez topped the times after a good day for Force India, the Mexican outpacing Bottas by 0.9s as both cars ran without major dramas.
“We really needed a good day to start this week and today we had it,” said Perez. “We managed to do a lot of laps, try several different compounds and mappings, and it’s been a fantastic day in terms of learning about the car. Tomorrow is my last day in the car before the season starts so hopefully we can have another solid day to be in good shape for Melbourne.”
“It’s been another good day for us,” said Bottas. “It was nice to get the whole run plan done. We didn’t have any issues all day so well done to all the team for getting the car running so well. We have a lot of data to analyse tonight after doing some aero work this morning and a race distance and set-up work this afternoon. We did some very interesting tests and there are still plenty of things to improve so we’ll keep pushing.”
Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest for Ferrari after losing a lot of track time early in the day.
“We had a small problem today, which limited the number of laps but still managed to learn some new things about the car,” said Raikkonen. “You always want to do better, but every team has unexpected things happen and we are still trying to do all we can to be ready for Melbourne. During the race weekends there will be little time to try different things in terms of set-up, so it was important today to keep on this track to find out what’s the best direction to go in. On the final day of the test, we will put everything together that we have learned so far, and will concentrate on the conditions we will encounter in the races.”
Mercedes completed 89 laps despite stopping early due to a series of problems after Rosberg set the fourth fastest time of the day.
“That was not a fantastic day for us,” said Rosberg. “We tried some new parts on the car and you find out a lot through doing that. But unfortunately we did not only discover good things today. I managed to do a couple of good laps before lunch but in the afternoon we had a few small problems which ended my running a bit earlier than planned. This shows that we are pushing everything to the limit and we still have a massive challenge in front of us during the last three days of testing. We need to maximise our time here to be prepared for Melbourne. But after a difficult day overall we are on the right path.”
The Mercedes mileage was matched exactly by Adrian Sutil and Sauber after a better day for the Swiss team.
“We did a lot of mileage today,” said Sutil. “However, we have to work on our performance. We still had a few issues. Nevertheless, we were able to do qualifying runs and almost a complete race simulation. We have collected a lot of valuable information, and we know we still have to make further progress. Also I was able to gain experience on all dry tyre compounds. Generally they are all a bit harder than last year, but I have no concern about them as they should last well over the race distance.”
Kevin Magnussen was a modest sixth fastest today, but the team said that a lot was achieved: “Without any new parts to evaluate, the first two days of running will focus on mileage and reliability. Kevin spent the morning in Bahrain undertaking a series of short, set-up runs. After the lunch break, he completed a full-race distance, and fitted in some further set-up work.”
Daniel Ricciardo ran a modest 39 laps after an exhaust problem kept him the garage for most of the afternoon. He set the seventh fastest time, although he was only a few tenths faster than the Marussia of Max Chilton. However, the RB10 was the quickest of the four Renault engined cars.
“The morning was much better for us with a few longer runs,” said Ricciardo. “Behind the wheel, that’s the best I’ve felt so far. The package seems to be coming together better. We still had a few issues today, but at least when the car was on track it was much more useful running and we made progress in the morning. It’s getting there. I’d love to keep going, but at least Seb has two days after me in the car, so I think we’ll be looking pretty good for the next three days.”
Toro Rosso lost most of the afternoon to what the team simply termed a ‘technical failure.’
“It was nice to be in the car,” said Daniil Kvyat, “even if we didn’t get through the entire programme we had planned for today. However, I feel we have made some progress. We ran the Hard Pirelli most of the time, as we were definitely not chasing performance today. I hope Jev manages to get a full day’s running tomorrow, before I drive again on Saturday.”
Lotus had the 10th best time, ahead of only Caterham both on speed and laps completed. Pastor Maldonado tried a new exhaust that failed and led to damage which kept the car off track. The older exhaust will be run tomorrow.
“For sure it wasn’t what we wanted today,” said Maldonado. “But we are all working very hard to make progress and I’m sure we’ll have solutions quite soon as a team, and it’s clear we have good potential and the car is not bad. We have had some problems but we are fixing them and we are making improvements with electronics and software every day we run.”
|1||Sergio Pérez||Force India||1:35.290||105|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:37.908||39|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:39.242||55|
Formula 1, Sergio Perez